Sunday Morning Coffee: Happenings

It’s shaping up to be a (normal) busy December. Mike and Janan will have closing on their new house, delivery of their shipping container from the warehouse in New Jersey, and settling back in to their own routine in their own place.

In recent years, I’ve not done well at all with the Christmas card routine. I’m going to try to do better this year, starting tomorrow. I remember how my mother-in-law sat down with her list and her new cards every year on the day after Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure her cards were the first ones all her acquaintances received!

My Christmas shopping is under way. It’s not nearly as big a job as it used to be. I don’t decorate as much as I used to, either. With all the kids and (most of the) grandkids grown up and on their own, our house is pretty quiet. And that’s fine with me. The rickety old back doesn’t tolerate all that busy-ness very well nowadays.

I do love Christmas music, and have already started to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to a book of arrangements from The Piano Guys that should be coming soon. I’m continuing to enjoy my piano lessons, working on music I never would have tried without having an excellent teacher. Taking lessons and being a part of the Piano by Pictures Academy has rekindled my love of music and broadened my repertoire. Last night, I was playing through my favorite Chopin nocturne, and Terry commented on how much better it is now than when I first started working on it. Warms my heart 🙂 I love this melody. The video, obviously, is NOT me 🙂

All this to-do makes for a wonderful time of year with all the tradition and beauty and amazing food. I love it, but in a whole different way at this point in my life. I tend to value the quietness of the season these days more than I do all the hustle and bustle.

Seasons change. Life changes. Perspectives change. It’s all good.

May you all enjoy this last Sunday in November.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Celebration!

Today, at Calvary Baptist Church in Pottstown, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the church.

The church was an outreach of Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, PA, where E.Robert Jordan was the pastor. I believe Joe DeCandillo was the first pastor. If that’s not correct, I will have more information later today and will change whatever I need to.

We’ve been members at Calvary for about ten years, so we’re kind of the “new kids on the block.” But there are others who have been there since the beginning, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them today.

Pastor Jim Spears served as senior pastor for 25 years. He’s going to be there today. Pastor Josh Farr, who was assistant/youth pastor under Pastor Spears’ leadership, has been chosen to take the senior pastor position. Our new assistant pastor is Landers Reeves, who is a convert under Pastor Spears’ ministry. He and his wife have both been great blessings to our church already.

There will be walks down Memory Lane today; there will be a dinner, testimonies, music, and probably slides or videos.

We have grown to love the people, our church family. I’m looking forward to the day. I’m sure it will be a good one!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Blah!

Yup. Blah. I have a bad case of the BLAHs. I’m a grouch.

I felt pretty good when I went to bed last night. My back pain had subsided to tolerable for the first time in several weeks.

Do you remember this book by Judith Viorst:

Change the word day to night and you’ll understand my present mood. I won’t go into gruesome detail. Just take my word for it–my night was ugly. I’m exhausted from it. It wore me out, and kicked my back pain into high gear.

I have an appointment on Tuesday with my pain doctor. Sure hope he has some kind of help for me.

So. Does a Christian have any right to be such a grouch? Shouldn’t we always be happy?

I think perhaps there is an important difference between the words happiness and contentment.

I’m not especially happy right now. I’ll get over it, though, and no one else will have to know my inner grouch. I can do that because I truly have reached a point in my life’s journey at which I can find contentment –not because of my circumstances, but in spite of my circumstances.

Paul said, in Phil. 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

He said that just a short time before he was executed, knowing what was waiting for him here on earth, but looking beyond that to what awaited him in heaven.

In the same chapter, in v. 9, he said: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

He is telling us to follow his example, and that if we do we will find peace with God. Contentment. Not happiness, necessarily, but contentment.

We live in these bodies of clay. We lug them around with us everywhere, and when they function properly, our mood often matches our physical well-being. When the body begins to fail us, however, it is way too easy to fall into the grumps and make everyone around us miserable. You’d think no one else ever suffered physical dysfunction!

The words to an old song are playing in my head this morning: “When your body suffers pain, and your health you can’t regain. . . . .”

Sunday Morning Coffee: Why Church?

Someone put up a meme of Facebook this week saying that no matter what you may have done during the week, no matter how inadequate you feel about yourself, you should go to church anyway. It seemed to be saying that church is a panacea for whatever sin we have committed during the previous week.

I’ve been thinking about it off and on, and I have some questions.

Will just any church do?

What exactly do you expect will happen at church?

Are you basing your salvation on going to church?

Will going to church really “fix” whatever else you’ve done during the week?

What exactly will be efficacious at church?

There are a lot more questions, but I’ll stop here.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I believe in going to church–as long as it preaches the truth of the Bible and presents a clear gospel message that leads to changed hearts and the salvation of souls. Apart from that, it’s simply a religious exercise that can be quite meaningless apart from feeling as if you’ve done your duty by attending a church service.

The churches I’ve attended all my life have emphasized the Bible, sin and salvation, and the edification of those who gather to study and grow together. Fellowship with others of like faith and practice helps prepare me to face the coming week with renewed hope and faith, knowing that I have a church family that prays for each other, helps each other, truly cares for each other.

Yes, we reach out to the broken, the needy, the lost. That is part of ministry.

I think what bothered me about that meme was that it seemed like just a “feel good” collection of thoughts, like “take an aspirin, drink lots of fluid, go to bed, and you’ll feel better.” We don’t go to church just to feel better. We go to be challenged, to continually learn from God’s Word, and to enjoy the fellowship of other believers.

Am I making much ado about nothing? Possibly. I don’t really think so, but possibly. In any case, the meme got me thinking about why we go to church, and to think is a very good thing 🙂

Sunday Morning Coffee: Back to Church!

I’ve missed three consecutive Sundays because of Covid! I’m so GLAD I feel well enough to go to church this morning!

Last night I went to a concert with Mike and Janan, and two old friends from the church we used to attend. One of them I’ve known for 45 years! As we were finding a place to sit, I recognized another old friend from years ago. What a pleasure to sit with her and catch up with each other! We shared some great times together back when we were both a lot younger, and the bond is still there.

The friendships we formed in our church years ago are still among my most treasured ones. The bonds we shared as we reared our kids and served together in ministry have stood the test of time and separation. The glue, of course, was our mutual love of God and His Word, and the desire of our hearts to share the gospel with those around us.

Today, we’ll be back among newer friends. The bond is the same as it was years ago. That doesn’t change, because Jesus never changes! I love everything about church. I totally enjoy having contact with young people who are warm and open toward us grannies. I love to watch the little kids as they grow up–so fast!–and to create new friendships with adults of all ages. I love the singing, the preaching, and the fellowship.

There is a lot of discussion these days about why so many of our young adults leave the church. I can tell you that it’s nothing new! Maybe some of the reasons have changed, but the fact of the matter is that our youth are often tempted away from church by more exciting entertainment, and therein lies the problem. Church is not for entertainment. It is for preaching, teaching, fellowship, edification. Community. Relationship, both with God and with other believers. I am so thankful to have found a place that still maintains those values.

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Ramble

It’s been a long time since I had a summer cold. I’d forgotten how nasty they can be. I certainly don’t want to share it with anyone else!

We have a lovely clear day here. It’s only 65 outside, with a predicted high of 84. Bearable. A great relief from the heat we’ve been having. Now, we just need a little rain. Well, we need a LOT of rain. I read about the areas that have been dealing with terrible flooding, though, and my heart hurts for all those who have lost loved ones.

It’s easy to be discouraged, isn’t it? Corruption in our government seems to be at an all-time high. The economy is definitely at a record low. Confidence in our leadership is also at an all-time low. We see war in Europe and probably in Asia as well. Drugs are coming across our borders in record amounts as our President works to enable endless illegal immigrants. It’s easy to wonder how much worse things are going to become.

Biblically, we know things are going to be a LOT worse in the second half of the Tribulation period. That time will make today’s issues seem paltry in comparison.

So let’s focus on something better!

I know it’s “old school” and puts me in the “old people” category, but I still enjoy watching Andy Griffith reruns on retro TV. The other night, there was an episode in which Gomer Pyle was talking about getting a couple of gallons of gas for 65cents! I remember my dad being annoyed when gas went up from 19 cents per gallon to 25 cents. Think of it–you could get four gallons of gas for a dollar!

Of course, this was in the 60s, just after the profitable post-war 50s–and that’s a rabbit trail just begging me to follow it. Lots of stuff going on in the 60s, the years in which I was a teen, a college student, a new bride.

Money went farther back then. My first paid job, cashier in a grocery store, paid me a whopping 90 cents per hour. I worked my way through college on those wages, when the semesters were about $500, including room and board!

But I didn’t intend for this post to be about the past :). It’s too easy for us to yearn for the good ol’ days, but anyone who experienced them knows there were serious issues then, just as there are today. The main thing I look forward to about heaven is that there will be NO wars; no poverty; no illness or death; no class or racial struggles, no elections, no campaigns, no bad weather, no miserably uncomfortable heat and humidity.

And of course, if you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know there’s a song in my head right now: Today, it’s the great Mahalia Jackson.

I just went back and proofed this post, and realized it’s more of a ramble than anything cohesive. I think, though, that I’ll just leave it alone–except that I just changed the title 🙂

Sunday Morning Coffee:This and That

I don’t have anything particular on my mind this morning, except a song that’s on an endless loop:

Actually, it’s not a bad way to start the day. It was already playing in my head when my alarm went off 🙂

It’s only 62 F. outside! That’s as cool as it’s been in the morning for WEEKS! It’s supposed to go up to 87 today. We’ve had a little rain, but just a teaser. We could use a good, all-day soaker.

On this last day of July, I find I’m truly looking forward to cooler nights. It will still be hot, but it can’t be much worse than it’s already been. I am eager for the fall sky, so painfully blue you can hardly believe it. Fall flowers, rejoicing in the lifting of the humidity. And, I hope, some good steady rain.

We had a group of young adults here on Thursday evening, along with our pastor and his family. What a delightful bunch! I enjoyed getting to know some people a little better. We had a good time with outdoor activities and indoor conversation and laughter. I’m glad we were able to do this. I couldn’t have pulled it off on my own, but having my son and his wife here to shoulder a lot of the work made it much easier. I love it when my house if filled with laughter!

Both Mike and Janan are closing in on jobs. Janan has been working hard, studying to be an insurance adjuster. Mike has three directions in which he could go right now. It’s a matter of making the best choice, not a bad position at all.

Terry got into some poison ivy this past week. It’s all around his left eye, and it’s pretty bad. Poor guy, he reacts to it strongly. He’s not feeling good at all this morning.

All in all, it’s been a fairly normal week. We’ll be on our way to church in about 45 minutes. A normal Sunday.

I hope your Sunday will be a good one!

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Little Whine :(

Here I am again, on a Sunday morning, sidelined by back pain–again!

The good news? I’m scheduled for an injection tomorrow afternoon. I’ve been counting down the days, and now the hours. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to an injection for my back quite this much before. A big pinch, some pressure, and voila! The pain is significantly reduced in about 15-20 minutes. It’s been almost a year since my last one. I have to admit to just pushing through it for a couple of months, at least, because these are steroid shots and they elevate my blood sugar for a while.

Seriously, it’s not nearly that bad :). My doctor is really good, delivering the shot quickly and as near to painlessly as possible. The only thing I really dread is the day the injections no longer work for me.

In the meantime, things are pretty good. God is still good, all the time. He has blessed us with 53 years of a good marriage. Terry does everything he can to help me, to avoid triggering back pain. I’m actually quite spoiled–not that I’m complaining 🙂

Change of subject: This past week, we had the pleasure of meeting with some old friends we hadn’t seen in quite some time. We’ve known them since 1974. Forty-eight years! We enjoyed seeing them so much, along with several other friends that we’ve also know for about the same period of time. There’s really nothing like old friends, people who know you very well, and love you anyway 🙂 We spent several hours last night just catching up with old friends.

I tried to be careful, but too much standing or even sitting in a chair without back support is always troublesome. Worth it, though. SO worth it!

I pray that you all are enjoying a time of praise, learning, and fellowship today in your various churches.
And I hope that next week I’ll have a different, more upbeat story to tell!

(Late) Sunday Morning Coffee: Home Alone

No, this is not about the movie.

I don’t know what happened, but I woke up early this morning with pretty severe back pain and knew I couldn’t deal with the long drive to church, nor sitting through two services and then the drive back home. It feels a little better now, thanks to good medication.

This could easily be Terry and me. Together, glad to be together, but not talking. After 53 years together, conversation is not always necessary. Quietness is valued.

So, right now, I have a quiet moment alone until everyone else gets home. I love quiet moments alone. Solitude is good for my soul. Some people replenish and renew by being around a lot of people, talking and enjoying companionship. I’m just the opposite. Give me quiet, solitude, music, and a good book and I’ll be ready to face the world again. According to some definitions I’ve heard, my love of solitude makes me an introvert. Those who feel replenished with lots of people and conversation are extroverts.

I don’t know for sure about all that. I just know I treasure “alone time,” and always have done so.

Jesus was the most balanced Man who ever lived. Luke 2:52 covers Jesus’ growing up years: He increased in wisdom (discernment, understanding, learning); stature (physical strength and development); favor with God (spiritual maturity); and favor with man (social, personality development). He was both an introvert and an extrovert. He occasionally removed Himself from the crowds, needing rest and solitude. He always ministered to the crowds, teaching and preaching and touching their physical needs. His final act at the end of Passion Week was to give of Himself utterly, completely, without holding anything back.

Here is a list of 25 verses that teach us the importance of becoming more like Christ:

Of course, He was wholly God as well as wholly man. We, being wholly human, are at something of a disadvantage in being Christlike. However, we can remind ourselves that doing so is a process, not an event. It takes a lifetime, however long that may be, for us to reach the final goal of becoming as He is when we reach heaven.

In the meantime, when you feel the need to renew and recharge, enjoy the process–whatever it may be that works for you!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Pastors

I Peter 5:4. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

Of course, we have no true idea what the crown of glory will look like!

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about the pastors in my life. I’ve been blessed.

I’m not in church this morning–again–because of back pain and lack of sleep. So I’ve had time to consider today’s post, which is closely related to my present study in I Peter 5: 1-3. The last verse, which I should have included in that passage, is v. 4. It is addressed to the elders, pastors, bishops–words that are used interchangeably in relation to the church.

An elder, bishop, or pastor, if he has been faithful and godly, will receive a crown of glory when Jesus hands out rewards to His people. The Bible says we will cast those crowns at His feet (Rev. 4:10-11) because only He is worthy of such glory and honor.

The first pastor I remember is Orville Peterson, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fairmont, Minnesota about 70 years ago. His love for my mom and dad had a profound influence, changing my dad’s life and directing him into ministry himself. I don’t have any clear memories of his preaching, but they remained family friends for many years.

The second man I remember better. Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters, Fourth Baptist Church, Minneapolis. I was five when we first attended there. He baptized me when I was eight. Again, no clear memories of his preaching during those years, except that the adults loved his sermons and said “Amen!” a lot. The main memory I have there is the music, which has inspired me all the rest of my life. Majestic, alive, enthusiastic. It is where I first remember singing Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! and Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow! There was a big old pipe organ, and the organist wasn’t afraid to open up all the stops 🙂

When I was ten, we moved to Portland, OR, where my dad attended seminary. He became the next pastor in my life and would remain so, actively, until I went to college. He never, though, stopped being a pastor/teacher/counselor for me until he went to heaven nearly 30 years ago. And even though he is no longer present here, his love of God’s Word remains as a guiding influence for me. He had a gift for making the hard things of scripture understandable. I think he is the first one from whom I heard, “If the plain sense makes common sense, then any other sense is nonsense!”

There were others. To name each one would make this post too long. So I’m going to fly through the years and land in Sellersville, PA at Bethel Baptist Church. Pastor Richard Harris was not a dynamic man in the sense of being loud, pounding the pulpit and such. But in his quiet way, he built a ministry that reached around the world at one point. His influence sent people out as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries and just faithful workers in churches around the world. He influenced legislation in Pennsylvania that protected Christian schools from government restrictions that would have put them out of business. He was active and influential in national and international activities. Most of all, he was a faithful soul-winner, and he loved his flock. He’s in heaven now.

Then, there is Pastor Jim Spears at Calvary Baptist in Pottstown. I think his primary personality feature is his humility. He was truly a servant leader there, and now he has retired and is doing interim pastor work wherever he is needed. He is an expositor of the scripture, digging into the meanings of words in the original languages in which they were written. The first memory I have of him is the way he shepherded people, on a blustery wet day, from their cars into the church building using his huge umbrella. He didn’t see that as doing anything special, but I sure did.

And now we have a new pastor, a young man who has been mentored by Pastor Spears for 14 years. He, too, has a humble spirit. He especially loves the teens, having worked as youth pastor for so long, and one of his goals is to bring more youth into the church.

We need to pray for our pastors, elders, leaders in the church. Women are elders, too, although they may not hold that official title. We are all teachers, often without realizing the influence we have on others. The women in the church can and should be a huge blessing to the ministry. There have been women in my life who have cared enough for me to hold me accountable in ways that I sometimes found quite uncomfortable. That’s what we need to do for each other. Not tearing down, but edifying and building each other.

Aside from those who were my pastors, I have been privileged to hear some of the greatest leaders in Christianity over the last 70+ years; those who came to my dad’s church to speak, or to my college, or to the other churches of which we have been a part. I won’t live long enough to be as aware of the new generation of leadership, but I pray that God will raise them up and strengthen them in a time when true Christianity is being seen as the biggest enemy of freedom. How the devil twists things and lies so effectively!

But that’s a topic for another day.

Love your pastor. Be the ones who hold up his arms in hard times, not the ones who tear him down.